Tractors to theatre, all in a day’s work for Joe Murphy

Joe Murphy buys in 70 Hereford (350kg-450kg) bullocks each autumn from the nearby Listowel mart.

He sells them a year later at the same venue.

He is slow to deal with the meat factory.

“I purchase the cattle myself, and I find I also get a better price for finished cattle at Listowel mart rather than at the beef factory, so I stick to that routine”.

Joe cuts 40 acres of silage each year, and through the winter, the cattle are also fed a sprinkle of ration. “You could call it a snuff of ration,” he says. About one kilo each per day.

“With the farm here being dry, I try and keep cattle out of grass for as long as possible. Last year, they came in on the first week of December.

“I enjoy working with cattle.”

Joe also has a fondness for farm machinery, and I found out about his latest purchase.

“I was trying to buy a good secondhand John Deere tractor for a while.

Before a show here, I’d be looking up tractors online, then I’d go to see them, only to find that they were heaps of rubbish, burned out machines.

“So I went to a main John Deere dealer with my daughter Marelle to look at another secondhand, and it was Marelle who suggested that I bite the bullet and buy a new one. I did.

“That was back in 2014, and the John Deere cost €48,000, it was the first tractor I had purchased since 1972.

“That tractor in 1972, a 1964 International 414, had cost me £350.

“I purchased it secondhand, they built strong tractors back then.

While Joe is delighted to have the new John Deere at his disposal, his heart still very much belongs to the International 414.

“In the ’70s, there were a lot furze and scrub on the farm.

“I had a loader on it, so I made a fork for the loader by welding on half shafts from cars.

“With that I was able to dig up furze, and burn the lot of them.

“And because we have a river running through the farm, at the time, I also used the tractor to draw gravel from it to be used for road ways and passageways.

“In 1984 I stripped down her engine. I replaced the piston, sleeves, rings, bearings on the crankshaft, and got the injector done”.

And even though the 1964 International is only a 50 horse power two-wheel drive tractor, Joe used it to spread slurry and, most daring of all, put a shear grab on it.

“I put a three and a half foot shear grab on, when I built a slatted house back in 1995.

“I was looking to buy a tractor for that purpose at the time but I couldn’t get what I wanted.

“My neighbours thought I was out of my mind, claiming that it wouldn’t work a shear grab. Well, it did.

“And then I used it to feed cattle from 1995 until I bought a JCB loader 10 years later”.

If ever a play was asking to be written and performed on the stage at St John’s Theatre in Listowel, that play is surely the story of Joe Murphy’s International 414 tractor.

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